Kieran Micallef, Camberwell Studios‘s trusty studio assistant has braved the most treacherous of production shoots involving earth, fire, wind and ice and survived to talk of his key experiences in ensuring the safety in the studio for our clients.

The term ‘Health and Safety’ has become contaminated. To most people it conjures ideas of jobsworths bureaucrats weaving an impossible maze where everything costs time, money and reams of paperwork to put right- which can be kryptonite to the creative instincts. Maybe a better way to think about it is ‘don’t get hurt or break your stuff’. Here are 5 quick tips to try and manage that…

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Sandbag your stands
Lights on stands are disproportionately weighted and it doesn’t take much force to knock one over if its not weighed down properly. It doesn’t take long and although you may have a plenty to think about already- doing it could save you a lot of money, reduce the risk of injuring another person and your reputation as a competent person. If you have run out of sandbags you can improvise to some extent, just don’t let it become something someone can trip over…

Clear trip hazards
It sounds obvious, but once the house lights are off the rear end of a studio can be almost pitch black. Just out of frame lurk cables, cases and possibly bunched up floor mats. Trip hazards are often the last thing on peoples minds, so if you spot one, just correct it. As soon as it is practical, move all gear that is currently not being used to the side of the room that is furthest away from the entrance or away from wherever there is a lot of footfall.

Use ladders correctly
Although very safe if used correctly, some people are scared to use them. If I used them the way I have seen some others using them, I would be scared too. The Health and Safety Executive have a detailed (but quite readable illustrated guide, linked below) but at a glance…

– Someone footing the ladder is better than no-one footing the ladder, so if there are idle crew waiting around as for a hand (or foot)

– Tie off the ladder if you can, especially if you will be carrying a load i.e rigging lights

– The lean of you ladder should be 1:4 i.e if you ladder is 4 metres tall, you should position the bottom 1 metre from the wall

– The ladder should be in good condition (the HSE recommends checking its condition each time before use)

– Never over reach.

– Finally, the most common I have seen is setting up the ladder on dodgy surface. If the ground is uneven or if it has even the slightest chance of slipping- immediately rethink your approach.

There is no shame in a two man lift
No one will be that impressed if you hulk that 80kg tub of 63amp cables by yourself, you won’t even save much time, if any. However, by doing it and injuring yourself, you can be sure to secure your reputation as a first class dope, especially if you break something.

Beware of the words “It’ll be fine”
Tensions can run high on some shoots where there is a lot of pressure to set up quickly, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t time to do things safely. I have personally seen directors have a ten minute discussion on whether they have time for a two minute job. If you spot a problem, quietly address it and there is no need to add it to the panic queue of a stressed out producer or director with a long shortlist.

In summary any discussion of ‘Health and Safety’ will likely prompt impromptu slumber or righteous indignation but when you think of it in terms of ’don’t get hurt or break your stuff’ or ‘don’t smash the colossally expensive lens or set fire to Michael Jackson’ then it becomes a bit more compelling.

Kieran Micallef – Studio assistant

Any question? do not hesitate to call us we are happy to help: 020 7773 0007

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